Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wi-Fi and marketing genius

With the epidemic of unsecured wireless networks being used as platforms for illegal attacks, and we see that lawyers and victims are fighting back. In many cases, the crooks simply set-up a portable wi-fi Starbucks and wait for the suckers to connect.

The bad guys them plant password sniffers on your laptop computer and sit-back while the PC e-mails all of your ssh passwords to an overseas address. It happens everyday, and victims and law enforcement are fighting-back:

  • Unauthorized access to a computer network becomes a felony – Even casual access to an unsecured wireless network in a hotel can destroy your career. You can be arrested on-the-spot, even if you have no criminal intent (other than stealing their bandwidth, of course). In Canada, it’s called Theft of Telecommunications.
  • Victims are suing hapless wi-fi homeowners - Hacking victims now have a cause-of-action against the owners of wireless networks that have been used as access points to commit crimes. If you manage a computer network, you are responsible, and your at-home wi-fi cannot serve as an open-relay for bad guys. It’s called “negligence”. . . . .

For the scary details, read my full article “Unauthorized Network access becomes a felony”.

The Accidental Felon

We are now seeing a backlash against those who tap-into unsecured wireless networks for evil purposes, and local police are now arresting those who tap-into unsecured wireless networks. This scares me because of “Barney Fife” police, quick to arrest people. Barney Fife is the epitomization of every over-zealous, rule-based small-town sheriff.

Don Knotts work on the Andy Griffith Show was a 1950’s TV hit that made Mayberry synonymous with the idyllic “small town anywhere”, and it made Andy Griffith and Don Knotts sex symbols. I kid you not, these guys attract beautiful women like files on poo. Also, it’s an inside-joke among North Carolinians that Andy Griffith chose real-world North Carolina clan names for his characters, using native names like “Pyle” and “Taylor” and “Crump”.

The threat of arrest aside, I would not want to be one of those goofs whose defense is that they did not know that connecting to an unsecured network was not a crime? Hey, why accidentally commit a felony? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and it makes you look stupid, too. . . .

Going after negligent wi-fi administrators

This year I’ve been talking to the FBI Cybercrine agents and federal attorneys on a foreign “John Doe” subpoena, and we are hearing that even if the attacker used an unsecured wireless network (or an “open relay” by a negligent ISP), the victims can still collect damages from the hapless owners of the unsecured wireless network. That makes sense.

In most cases, your homeowner’s policy will cover damages up to $250,000, but a major attack could cause you to loose everything, including your house and life-savings. For me, it’s not worth the risk. Protect your wireless network with “real” security, and don’t just hop onto any unsecured wireless that your computer detects.

BTW, for the really paranoid, there are other unique Wi-fi intrusion detection tools that offer “practical mind protection for paranoids”, across the globe, like this one for only $12.95.

For more information on identifying paranoid schizophrenics on the web see my new book, ”Web Stalkers: Protect yourself from Internet Criminals and Psychopaths”. It’s only $19.95, and a great read too.

Marketing Genius in-action

On a related subject, this guy gets my award for marketing creativity, for innovation anyway. At you can get a variety of dog doo mailed anonymously to anyone you desire. I’m told that it’s a popular gift for ex-wives, bosses and mothers-in-law. Here is their top-10 list of gift recipients. Check it out:

Me, I like the “poo poo grande” special, and the ever-popular "Poo Poo platter":

"World Famous Hand-Crafted Dog Poop Not fake dog doo ~ a work of art!"

You can get the t-shirt too, a great gift:

Pure genius, cleaning up the back yards and making a few bucks too. This fellow has been in business for many years, and I heard that he has had to get a 4th dog to keep-up with the demand. . . . Seriously, this guy has been featured in TIME magazine.